Chinese who changed face of Olympics honoured
John Ian Wing, who changed the face of the Olympics with a simple letter to the organisers, is at last getting to see the greatest sports show on earth.
In 1956, the world faced international tension with the Soviet invasion of Hungary and the Suez Crisis. The Cold War was at its height.
Wing wanted to change the world with a symbolic gesture that showed how sport could rise above politics.
He was working as a 17-year-old apprentice carpenter in Melbourne's Chinatown when the idea came to him.
Wing wrote to Wilfred Kent Hughes, chairman of the organising committee for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, suggesting that the athletes should all march together in the closing ceremony. They had always paraded as separate nations before.
The organisers took up the suggestion, the athletes all strolled in together and Melbourne was forever dubbed The Friendly Games.
Wing never attended the Games. In fact, he watched much of the action through a television store window.
Afterwards he steadfastly refused to come forward and take the credit.
Sports historian Harry Gordon, writing an article entitled "Where are you John Ian Wing?", finally tracked him down to England and Wing was flown back to Melbourne in 1986 for the opening of the Australian Gallery of Sport.
Now at the age of 60, he lives in Bucharest running Chinese restaurants in the Romanian capital.
The organisers of the Sydney Olympics decided to invite him as their guest to see the Olympics in person for the first time.
And he will go out in a blaze of glory.
The Chinese boy who wrote that letter 44 years ago is to be featured in the souvenir programme and on the giant screens in Stadium Australia for the closing ceremony on Sunday.
The organisers have promised that the grand finale will be the biggest and best in Olympic history.
An F-111 fighter bomber will ignite a massive plume of flame over the stadium to start a stunning fireworks finale to the first Games of the 21st century.
Lightning shells will then explode like giant flashbulbs at 24 points along the Parramatta River from the stadium to downtown Sydney, where another F-111 will perform a second "dump and burn" operation above the famous Harbour Bridge.
Then festivities are wrapped up with a 20-minute fireworks display consuming A$3 million of fireworks in an explosion of colour that promises to put Sydney's Millennium night celebrations in the shade.
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